Baseball can be serious business in New York, which supports two Major League teams. With fans and owners expecting perennial winners, some of the best players are paid huge sums of money to play in New York. Amid that climate, New York baseball is also intense in the offseason.
The New York Yankees and the New York Mets are again spending big money to attract talent that will hopefully lead each team to a World Series championship. New Yorkers were treated Tuesday to a pair of big names making their formal move. The Yankees introduced star pitcher Randy Johnson while the Mets showed off their new center fielder, Carlos Beltran.
The Mets paid a franchise high $119 million to Beltran in a seven-year deal. Beltran brings speed, power, defense and the type of young superstar the Mets have been unable to lure in recent years. The Mets finished fourth last season among five teams in the National League East division. But Beltran says he is part of a different Mets team.
"I feel proud to be part of the new family, the New York Mets, the new Mets. I call it the new Mets because this organization is going to a different direction, the right direction, the direction of winning," he said.
Beltran comes to the Mets about four weeks after the club lured superstar pitcher Pedro Martinez from the World Series champion Boston Red Sox. On December 16, Martinez signed a four-year, $53 million deal with the Mets.
Three hours after Beltran was introduced, the Yankees summoned the media to announce they acquired Randy Johnson from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The five-time Cy Young award winner, for pitching excellence, opened with an apology for a minor street scuffle with a New York television cameraman on Monday.
"Obviously I feel very foolish today, at such a great moment in my career, that I would have to stand before all of you and apologize for my actions," he said. Johnson has spent the bulk of his 17-year career with the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks. He says life in New York City will be different. "A lot of things are new to me here, playing with the Yankees now," he said. "Getting out of the car yesterday, arriving at my hotel, I am not used to having photographers pop out from behind the bushes and taking my picture or things like that. So do I have to get used to that? Without a doubt."
The Yankees are paying Johnson $32 million for two years. New York Yankees won the American League East title last season, but was denied a trip to the World Series by a stunning comeback from the Boston Red Sox. Boston became the first team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the AL championship series to reach the Fall Classic.
The Yankees hope the addition of Randy Johnson will help ensure a smoother trip to a record 27th World Series title.